The company in charge of security services at Belfast International Airport claims it “inherited a staffing shortage from the previous provider” which is continuing to cause long hold-ups for passengers getting through security.
Responding to complaints about the length of time passengers are having to queue to get through baggage checks at the airport to get to their departure gates, Great Britain-based security and logistics specialist Wilson James said it is in the process of recruiting 50 additional staff in a bid to address the ongoing problems.
While both Wilson James, which took over as the security provider at Aldergrove three weeks ago, and Belfast International Airport have given assurances that efforts are being made to improve the situation, an airport spokesperson said passengers should still arrive two hours before their flight and be “fully prepared for the security search process”.
The long-running problem has seen the airport come in for stinging criticism from disgruntled passengers over several months, with many complaining of waits of over an hour to get through security and some saying the delays have caused them to miss flights.
Posting on social media over the past couple of days, some angry passengers have branded the situation at the airport “an utter shambles”, while others say the ongoing problems are encouraging more passengers to use George Best Belfast City and Dublin airports instead.
Responding to the latest complaints, a spokesperson for the airport commented: “We understand our passengers’ frustration with security queuing times at Belfast International Airport and we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.
“We have experienced significant issues with security staffing levels over the past six months which have impacted upon the operation. Our new security provider, Wilson James, took over this contact on 1 November and have an ongoing recruitment drive with 50 vacancies currently available at enhanced rates of pay.
“We are working hard behind the scenes to try to resolve these issues as quickly as possible but the recruitment, training and security clearance of staff will take time to implement.
“We would ask all our passengers to arrive two hours before their flight and fully prepared for the security search process as this will speed up processing times for everyone.”
A spokesperson for Wilson James said: “Wilson James took over the security contract at Belfast International Airport on 1 November 2018.
“Wilson James inherited a staffing shortage from the previous provider which has continued to impact the service delivery. However, we are pleased to confirm that the recruitment process for 50 employees is already under way and candidates are moving through a rigorous security vetting process to ensure that aviation security standards are maintained.
“To complement our recruitment strategy, we are also pleased to confirm that last week we agreed an improved pay deal which will raise pay rates across the whole the security contract.
“We are confident that this priority on our employees will deliver a higher calibre of service and provide passengers a more seamless journey through the airport.
“We recognise that this is the beginning of our new partnership with Belfast International Airport and look forward to working with them to improve the passenger experience.”
Wilson James took over the role of security provider at the airport from ICTS, which held the contract for over 16 years.
ICTS said it had provided an “excellent service” and claimed the inadequate service provided to customers over the summer months was beyond its control.
Meanwhile, George Best Belfast City Airport, which has officially opened upgraded terminal facilities following a £15 million infrastructure investment, says its new security search area has reduced average queuing times to just six minutes.
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